Quote from The_Muffintime
Hi everyone, I've got a burning question I'd like answered if possible.
I hear two totally different things about that first RN job out of nursing school. One side says "Try and get on a med-surg floor. Do that for a year and you can do anything!" The other side says "Don't delay your ambitions. Floor nursing is terrible and you can be an ER/ICU/NICU/whatever nurse right out of school!"
The latter opinion is mostly people I meet in real life, and the former I read mostly on the internet, but there are exceptions. So far in clinical I have actually loved my med-surg experiences, but I realize that I am not working and things would be different.
What do you guys think? I'm in Florida, Tampa Bay area if it matters.
The people you meet in real life -- are they mostly people you're meeting in the context of school? It matters. Try to talk to some of the nurses you meet outside of school -- your great aunt Betsy's partner, your SO's mother, your next door neighbor who comes home every morning at 8:30 wearing scrubs
. Ask them what they think. In general, I think, you'll find that people who are in nursing school or fresh out of nursing school will say to go for the specialty right out of school. "I did it and I did fine!" Nurses who have been at it for a long time will be more likely to tell you to get some experience in Med-Surg before going for the specialty.
I've been at it for a long time, and started in Med/Surg/Tele. I got the chance to see patients with a wide variety of disease processes, so I got broad experience. I learned a lot in those first two years: how to talk to patients, families, physicians, pharmacists and the hospital that transferred the patient to us. I learned how to walk into a room and do a mini-assessment in 1-2 minutes while introducing myself and announcing that I'd be back later after I'd read through the orders. I learned to place a Foley, NG, and IV while doing a full assessment and fielding questions about my other patients. I learned time management, organization and critical thinking stuff. I also learned that stuff with the heart fascinated me, neuro stuff bored me and GI bleeds grossed me out. I learned that I liked complicated patients, "walkie talkies" weren't my favorite patients and spending the whole shift with one group of patients rather than lots of admissions and discharges was more comfortable for me. I wouldn't have learned those things had I not started where I did. When I did jump into a specialty (MICU/CCU), I didn't have to learn the basics. I just had to learn the specialty stuff, the specialty drugs, the specialty providers. I had the opportunity to learn and understand the specialty stuff thoroughly because I wasn't also learning the basics at the same time.
My husband, who has been a nurse since the early 80s, observes that the people who start out in specialties don't last as long. They burn out faster and leave nursing earlier. He also points out that when someone says they started directly in a specialty, that they managed just fine and they're an awesome nurse, it might be interesting to see what their colleagues have to say about all of that. (I'll add "and their preceptors." ) Some genuinely do manage just fine, that is true. But not as many as think they do.